Do Better Vaccine Practices Make Healthier Calves?

Project Title

Impact of Good Vaccine Practices (GVP) on Vaccine Effectiveness


Nilusha Malmuthuge (AAFC Lethbridge)

Gleise Medeiros da Silva (University of Alberta)

Status Project Code
In progress. Results expected in March, 2024 POC.11.22


Vaccines and a good vaccine protocol is a powerful tool to prime and boost the immune system to improve cattle’s ability to fight common diseases. Keeping vaccines at the appropriate temperature during storage, preparation and use and using the correct syringes and needles positively impact the effectiveness of the vaccine. This is especially true for preparing modified live vaccines (MLV) which rapidly lose effectiveness if exposed to temperatures above 8°C or below 0°C. Best practices are described on product labels and often explained by veterinarians but producers don’t always follow these instructions to the letter, and that may cost them more than they realize. It is unclear how much money is being left on the table from preventable diseases occurring despite being vaccinated because of poor vaccine practice on-farm.


  •  Evaluate the effectiveness of good compared to poor vaccine practices on priming immune response after vaccination

What they will do

96 calves at AAFC Lacombe will be vaccinated using a modified live vaccine that is mixed either 2 hours or 30 minutes before use and either stored in a cooler or outside. Blood samples will be collected from calves before vaccination and 14 days after the study to look at antibody titres. Farm records on morbidity, mortality, and treatments will be used to look at any effects vaccine practice has on disease.


This study will show what the actual animal health and economic impacts are of improper vaccine handling. In doing so, we can determine if small changes to how we currently vaccinate young calves could make a big difference in improving the overall health of the animal throughout its life.